Why might Fairphone have had such limited take-up in the UK


I have asked previously why the Fairphone has had such limited take-up in the UK. Perhaps it would be more pertinent to ask why it is that Germans, Austrians etc are prepared to overlook its shortcomings.

:uk: Interesting links / news articles somehow related to Fairphone

Well, maybe it’s the same reason, that the green party in the UK gets around 1% of the votes, while they play a greater role in Germany, Austria, France and other countries?


It is important to note, however, that in the UK the system usually used in elections is First-past-the-post, which handicaps smaller parties.

In continental Europe we are more used to proportional representation, which gives more impact to votes for smaller parties.

If you want to compare, you would have to look at e.g. European Parliament elections (nice coincidence, we’ll have them soon), which uses proportional representation EU-wide.
In the 2014 European Parliament elections in the UK, the Green Parties in the UK combined got 7,7% of the UK vote (England and Wales 6,9% + Scotland 0,7% + Northern Ireland 0,1%).


A bit of a guess and a generalisation (which is of course a bad thing to do :wink: ), but having now lived in the UK for almost 4 years, I think there is something to be said for the observation that there is less appreciation for compromise and iterative improvement compared to other countries in Western Europe. In the UK, I got the impression something either needs to be great from the get-go, or doesn’t pass the bar.

As an interesting case: I’ve found that in the UK hardly anybody seems to make the argument of organic meat products providing a higher standard of living for the animal compared to regular. As a native Dutch, I have gotten used to being able to balance the level of animal welfare (in a three-star rating system!) with the contents of my wallet. Instead, here in the UK I’ve found myself searching back and forth the aisles looking for anything organic other than mince or chicken. There appears to be very little market for say an organic breakfast sausage or pork shoulder. i’ve discussed this with some of my friends before, and to them this organic meat argument makes very little sense because if you care about animal welfare you simply wouldn’t eat meat!

I’m sure I’ve come across other examples in many different places, and I don’t think it’s a categorically bad mindset to have; more often than not there’s obvious merits in not settling for sub-par. I do believe when people say it makes the UK a much harder market in general to penetrate for newcomers.


You could replace UK by Spain anywhere in this thread and all the arguments would still be valid. Even the non-proportional political representation.


Privacy is important in Germany due to its recent history (WWII, GDR).


I would really, really wish this would be the case, but the mindset of the German general populace and of our politicians tell a different story.
There still are some upright figures fighting to protect privacy, but it more and more seems like a lost cause with nowadays’ people.

We are heading towards a surveillance state the GDR Stasi could only have dreamt of, and seemingly almost everybody is just shrugging it off and giving the Nothing to hide argument.


I do agree in general.
Yet I don’t think, that the “surveillance state” is causing trouble today or even that the state is so extremely intrusive, when it comes to privacy; at least in comparison.
In my opinion it’s private companies and especially the internet (being connected/online all the time), that has made “data privacy” a thing of the past. As “everyone” is openly presenting him-/herself online for all to see, privacy is non existent for many.
Online shopping etc., where accepting data useage for all kinds of purposes is just a click (without reading); online gaming and so on.
All this has for many people led to not worrying about ones own data anymore.
And as lots of the companies are connected or even owned by the same large company, they pose a far greater threat than the state. Even more so, since they are (mostly) not located in the EU and not really controlled by EU-States-Courts.

Those days are long gone, when there was a real peoples movement protesting against the census, resulting in the “census-ruling” of The German Federal Constitutional Court of December 15th 1983.


Thanks for that insight.
On the other hand, the EU elections might not be the best indicator, as the voting decision might differ as well. E.g. many people are not interested/motivated to vote for the European Paliamant and I would guess, that this is not equally affecting all parties.
And the difference is still a big one, when it comes to Germany.


How come I freaking like your arguments…?*!#
For me it’s getting somehow more and more embarrassing and having to feel bad about trying to not reveal every piece of privacy even if this means having to cope with more inconvenience.

I cannot get rid of the impression nowaday’s people are (already) tired or fed up with using their brains or common sense, just as if thinking would cause permanent damage to whatever.
Although this surveillance and data mining issue is globally known and discussed it does not look like forces against those are on the winner side.


This is a very interesting discussion. What about making it a topic at the #EFCT19 ?
I could imagine the people who are interested in an fair made phone are in fact using at least some parts of their brain and could also be interested in privacy. So we could talk about that and learn so we or the @Angels are trained.


A discussion seldomly leads to new insights on either side when one looks down on their antagonist. As much as I concur with your concerns around privacy, I suspect the discussion is no exception to this. I propose to keep it clean. :slight_smile:


Yeah, I suppose so, but its not a binary thing. I think its much worse elsewhere… but I don’t have data at hand.


There was some discussion about getting the FP2 up for sale with the UK network giffgaff… however I think this may have somewhat stalled since the FP2 is no longer for sale (except the occasional batch of refurbished ‘new life’ editions).

The FP2 sold quite well, although in low numbers I think, with the Phone Co-op.

Some of the reasons that Fairphone hasn’t faired so well in the UK is not so much to do with FP or the technology, but rather the way that the UK market is dominated by contracts (last look I had it was over 60% contracts). For FP to take off in the UK, it needs to be offered with bigger suppliers. Giffgaff would be the perfect partner, and I do hope that can get off the ground.


I’m a UK Fairphone 2 user. I bought it through the Phone Co-op on a contract. I doubt I would have heard of it otherwise. As for being patient with its shortcomings, I think I’m as tolerant as any other users. I’m currently installing the latest Android upgrade, and sincerely hope it will cut down the problems with screen freeze and random reboots.


It could be as simple as advertising and availability. As stated above it is only available from the Phone Co-op which is a small company with 30,000 business and private customers in 2015. (Can now be bought direct from Fairphone also).
When I bought mine no one I knew here in the UK had ever heard of Fairphone. I work in the aerospace industry and, long story short, I was with some German engineers from Airbus Bremen and they had all heard of Fairphone.
If Fairphone was in the high street across the UK I’m sure the sales figures would be very different.


Oh I’m sure advertising plays a role in this. However, the easiest way for a small company to get that exposure on the high street is by partnering up with carriers. If they believe your smartphone can attract them new customers, they are happy to do some of the heavy lifting to get that exposure to the local market. I suspect the lack of advertising can largely be attributed to the fact that none of the big four carriers sold the phone in combination with their plans.
The real question to ask is why? Has Fairphone not been trying hard enough? Or have the carriers not shown sufficient trust in the product? It might well be that the lack of availability was a result of the UK carriers judging the market for such a phone would be too small to warrant the investment in setting up distribution and marketing (… but without their input, we’d have to treat that as speculation at best :wink: )


Just to make sure: it wasn’t possible to buy from the Fairphone online store in the UK right from the start?

Here in Germany Fairphone wasn’t available in stores either, everyone had to buy from Fairphone directly.


When I bought my FP2 in March 2018 the FairPhone website stated that it delivered to 'Continental Europe only". Last time I looked it stated ‘Continental Europe and the UK’.
Therefore, at the time, I bought my Phone from the Phone Co-op, the only stockist in the UK.


Possibly a difference in terminology? I think “organic meat” sold in the UK simply means the animal has been fed on organic food. Nothing to do with welfare… that would be more to do with “free range”.

I don’t know how this affects other countries, but ethical food labelling in the UK is a mess. One of the worst culprits is Marks & Spencer, who proudly display “outdoor reared” on most/all of their pork. Meaningless. It just means that the animal has been outside for a minimum period of its otherwise battery existence. However, people misunderstand “outdoor reared” as being a synonym for “free range”.


Yes, a Giffgaff/Fairphone link would be great. Giffgaff are good on refurbished and pre-owned phones, which is more in line with the FP ethos than most network providers.